Georgia's Housing Success Stories

A Closer Look at the 2004 Magnolia Awards Winners and Finalists

Affordable Rental Housing

Magnolia Circle Apartments - 2004 WINNER

Initiative for Affordable Housing, Inc. developed Magnolia Circle Apartments as an affordable housing option for DeKalb County seniors 62 and older. The $7.9 million development consists of 84 one- and two-bedroom ground-level apartments, with 80 percent leased as affordable units and 20 percent leased at market rate. Residents have access to a community building with a fitness center and activity rooms, a community garden with individual plots available, and Georgia's first certified multi-family property Wildlife Preserve/Bird Sanctuary. Case managers are available to help coordinate services such as Meals on Wheels and transportation.

Regular activities both on- and off-site encourage socialization. As the first EarthCraft-certified multi-family property in the country, Magnolia Circle Apartments was constructed with special features that lessen the project's impact on the environment. Features include fresh air intakes, low Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs) and recycled content building products. The development is also certified as Energy Star, a program that requires it to be 30 percent more energy efficient than a typical project. These features not only reduce utility bills at the complex, but they also create a cleaner, healthier environment for residents.

South Rossville Senior Village Apartments

The City of Rossville's need for quality affordable housing for its senior citizens was addressed and an abandoned elementary school was reclaimed when Olympia Construction created the South Rossville Senior Village in 2003. The former South Rossville Elementary School, constructed in 1923, was renovated, and two new buildings were added to create 60 one- and two-bedroom affordable rental units for the community's low- and median-income seniors. The development includes a community room with kitchen, an arts-and-crafts room, two libraries, exercise facilities, walking trails, and a putting green. The $6.5 million project was financed through the Georgia Department of Community Affairs and private funds.

Renovating the dilapidated South Rossville Elementary School revitalized a part of the community. Many of the senior residents once attended or taught school there, giving them an extra attachment to the building. The project is considered a strong example of implementing adaptive reuse to fulfill housing needs in a community.

The Pines at Willowbrook

The Pines at Willowbrook is an 80-unit apartment community developed by the Ansley Housing Partners as an affordable housing option in Hinesville near the Fort Stewart military base. The property consists of five apartment buildings of 16 units each and one community building. The mixed-income property leases 80 percent of the units to low-income households, with the remaining 20 percent of the units offered at market rates. Located in a family-oriented community, the complex includes 24 three-bedroom units, which were previously lacking in the area. Residents of the Pines at Willowbrook have access to the community building with meeting space, an exercise room and a business center with computers. A picnic area and tot lot provide recreational opportunities outdoors. The Pines has set a new standard for apartments in Liberty County.

Ansley Housing Partners and partner Apollo Housing Capital, LLC, financed the project through Low Income Housing Tax Credits. Permanent financing will be provided by the Community Development Trust and Chase National Bank. The development's success is evident in the leasing rate ­ lease-up began in September 2003, and it was 97 percent leased by December 2003. It has maintained full occupancy, with a three- to six-month waiting list. Families from as far away as Hawaii have called inquiring about the availability of these apartments.

Creative Partnerships 

Countryside Cottages/EasyLiving Homecm

EasyLiving Homecm is a voluntary certification program developed by a coalition of public and private organizations to encourage the inclusion of key features that make a home cost effective, accessible and convenient for everyone, no matter their age, size or physical ability. These features are incorporated without sacrificing style or adding substantial construction costs and include components such as step-free entrances and larger doorways. Countryside Villas, built by Countryside Cottages, LLC, in Woodstock, is a community of 44 homes that meet the EasyLiving Home certification requirements. Additional EasyLiving homes are located throughout the state.

The EasyLiving Home coalition, which developed the concept in 1999, includes representatives from: AARP Georgia, Atlanta Regional Commission, Concrete Change, Easter Seals-Southern Georgia, Fannie Mae Atlanta Partnership Office, Georgia Department of Community Affairs, Governor's Council on Developmental Disabilities, Home Builders Association of Georgia, Shepherd Center, Statewide Independent Living Council of Georgia and Universal Design Alliance.

Property Acquisition for Neighborhood Revitalization Model - 2004 CO-WINNER

Entering an agreement in which the Macon-Bibb County Land Bank Authority (LBA) serves as the Macon Housing Authority's (MHA) agent for property acquisition matters gave the two agencies the ability to partner with other organizations for extensive inner-city neighborhood redevelopment. Past revitalization efforts had been sporadic with limited success. The new agreement allowed MHA to make full use of its eminent domain powers and purchase enough property in critical areas to make a transforming difference. Working with its affiliated non-profit organization, In-Fill Housing, Inc., and other local non-profit organizations, the MHA and LBA have been involved in the construction/rehabilitation and sale of 81 single-family homes. Up to 100 additional homes are under construction or planned in targeted areas.

Organizations involved in the redevelopment efforts include: MHA; LBA; City of Macon, Economic and Community Development Department; In-Fill Housing, Inc.; Renaissance Housing Partnership, Inc.; CORE Revitalization, Inc.; Historic Macon Foundation; Habitat for Humanity; Mercer University; Beall's Hill Development Corporation; James, Bates, Pope & Spivey, L.P.; and Harris & James.

Southwest Georgia Housing Task Force - 2004 CO-WINNER

With representatives from 16 organizations, the Southwest Georgia Housing Task Force focuses on education as a key to solving and preventing housing problems in the 14-county region. Its membership includes local, regional and state government representatives; housing providers; banks; high schools; and concerned citizens. The Task Force developed and sponsored a high school financial education course, on-site housing fairs for businesses, first-time home buyer education seminars and regional housing leadership workshops. The group has published case studies, housing/homeless resource booklets, and publications on workforce housing and credit/money management. Working through the Southwest Georgia Regional Development Center, the Task Force also developed design guidelines for manufactured housing in-fill in historic neighborhoods and conducted housing needs assessments and rental inventories for two local governments. The Task Force is currently working on a regional housing website to provide housing resource information to citizens and social service organizations in the area.

Partners include: Southwest Georgia Regional Development Center, Habitat for Humanity, U.S. Department of Agriculture, Bullard Variety, Camilla Chamber of Commerce, City of Pelham, Albany Community Development, WIA, Seminole Training, Southwest Georgia CAC, Georgia Department of Community Affairs, City of Moultrie, Pelham City Schools, Consumer Credit Counseling and Arlington Housing Authority.


Homeownership Made Easy (H.O.M.E.) Programs

The Green Forest Community Development Corporation (CDC) is a private non-profit faith-based community economic development corporation that supports homeownership in DeKalb County through educational and lending programs. Green Forest CDC is the lead agency of the Expanding the Dream® DeKalb initiative, which is their Homeownership Made Easy (H.O.M.E.) home buyer education-counseling program. Developed by Freddie Mac, H.O.M.E. provides pre-purchase counseling, loss mitigation and default/delinquency counseling. Green Forest CDC includes extensive financial literacy counseling through Freddie Mac's "CreditSmart" curriculum as well. To combat predatory lending, Green Forest CDC is serving as a leader on the Development Team of the "Don't Borrow Trouble Metro Atlanta" initiative.

Green Forest CDC also provides on-line lending for minority families. The CDC is part of a comprehensive $25 million faith-based housing effort uniting them with South DeKalb Church Federal Credit Union; six area churches; mortgage lender Taylor, Bean & Whitaker; and Freddie Mac. Called "Catch the Dream DeKalb," the program provides accessible low down payment mortgage products to the 40,000 members of six churches.

Jimmy Carter Work Project 2003 - 2004 WINNER

During the week of June 6-13, 2003, the City of Valdosta and many community partners built 25 Habitat for Humanity homes as part of the 2003 Jimmy Carter Work Project. The City's long-standing relationship with Habitat for Humanity and its designation as a 21st Century Challenge Community with a goal of eliminating substandard housing within the city by the year 2020 helped in its effort to become one of three Work Project sites selected in 2003. The project cost a total of $4.7 million, with $2.9 million coming from the donation of land and sponsorships, $1.1 million funded through CHIP and CDBG, and about $700,000 contributed by the City.

First-time, low-income buyers purchased the 25 homes built during the Jimmy Carter Work Project, becoming the first homeowners in the newly created Northside Place Subdivision. An additional 14 homes have been constructed in the neighborhood since the construction blitz, and six more units are underway. When Northside Place is completed, the City of Valdosta will have partnered with Habitat for Humanity on the construction of 74 homes.

Woodland Oaks Subdivision

Woodland Oaks Subdivision grew from a partnership between the City of Albany, Dougherty County and Flint River Habitat for Humanity. The City and County donated 67 lots and provided the community's infrastructure, including roads, curbs, gutters and streetlights. Leveraging donations from individuals, corporations, churches and civic groups with many hours of volunteer labor, Flint River Habitat for Humanity created a neighborhood of tree-lined streets and beautiful homes. Work on Woodland Oaks began in 1998, and 48 homes have been completed for first-time, low-income buyers at an estimated cost of $2.4 million. The varied home designs showcase and preserve the surrounding environment, including numerous oak trees.

Though not yet completed, Woodland Oaks is already a strong community with an active Homeowner's Association. Neighbors enjoy cookouts together, and Lowe's of Albany offers weekly classes on topics of interest to homeowners, such as pest control and home repair. The City of Albany is building a park in Woodland Oaks to provide a neighborhood gathering place.

Superior Design

Columbia Citihomes Apartments - 2004 WINNER

Columbia Residential placed Columbia Citihomes Apartments in an emerging Atlanta community where an active neighborhood organization resisted typical apartments that might decrease property values. The company's response was to design an affordable apartment community that met neighborhood desires aesthetically, but also considered the safety and comfort of future residents. The finished buildings look like large homes that have always been a part of the larger community. The complex is fenced and gated, but the buildings are arranged to face the street so neighbors do not feel excluded by high walls. Many large trees were saved and more planted to preserve the environment of the neighborhood. The main drive entering the complex gives the appearance of a residential street.

For residents, Columbia Citihomes Apartments were designed to make parking and exterior entries secure, with individual or nearly individual exterior entries and small parking bays near exterior doors. The 84 two-bedroom apartments feature many desirable details, such as columns separating living and dining areas, large dining rooms, and extensive windows. Amenities include a picnic area and clubhouse with fitness and laundry centers.

Crogman School Apartments

The Atlanta Development Authority transformed the Crogman School, built in 1923, into a 105-unit affordable apartment complex, spurring redevelopment in the entire Pittsburgh community. The dilapidated building, abandoned for two decades, was a center for crime and slated for demolition when the Authority purchased it from the school system. The existing Arts and Crafts-style brick building was adapted and restored to comply with the Department of the Interior's Guidelines for Historic Preservation. The one-, two- and three-bedroom apartments have large windows and spacious rooms with 12-foot ceilings. Because they were built into an existing building, the layout of each apartment is unique. A new three-story building was added to the rear of the school, creating a large public courtyard between the two structures. Its garden-style apartments have balconies, and the brick trim of the façade complements the brick on the Crogman School building.

Because the Crogman School is a historic property, the Atlanta Development Authority financed much of the reconstruction using historic tax credits. Tax exempt bonds and low income housing tax credits also helped fund the $10.5 million project.

The Atlanta Habitat for Humanity Design Project

While Atlanta Habitat for Humanity builds quality, affordable homes (under $100,000), the organization also seeks to integrate those homes into individual communities using neighborhood-appropriate designs. Because Atlanta Habitat uses a systemized process for construction, matching the distinct styles of Atlanta neighborhoods poses a challenge, but it is a challenge Habitat feels compelled to meet. In the South Atlanta community and the Adair Park historic district, each Atlanta Habitat home is built with specific technical, structural and decorative elements according to agreements within those neighborhoods. Homes may include a side or back landing, a spacious porch, special columns, decorative brackets, or exposed rafters. For example, in South Atlanta, each house is painted at least three exterior colors. In both communities, the pitch of the roof on each home is adjusted to match neighboring homes.

Even with the variations, Atlanta Habitat maintains affordability. Basic elements are still mass-produced, and unskilled volunteers construct many of the new elements through a systemized, supervised construction process. By building attractive, interesting houses that intermingle with existing homes, Atlanta Habitat builds neighborhood pride and a strong sense of ownership.

Special Needs 

Daniel-Flagg Villas of the Phoenix Project - 2004 WINNER

Daniel-Flagg Villas is a permanent housing community for persons living with HIV/AIDS and their family members. The 10-unit community includes one-, two- and three-bedroom apartments, two of which are handicapped accessible, and they are leased at an affordable rate according to each occupant's income. Daniel-Flagg Villas allows clients who were once in a state of chronic homelessness to live in safe, decent, affordable housing across the street from the social services of the nearby Phoenix Project. These services include HIV/AIDS healthcare assessment and treatment, peer education, resource coordination, support groups, and substance abuse treatment among others. Residents work with a case manager to develop an Individualized Service Plan that will guide them into independent living.

Savannah's Union Mission, Inc. created Daniel-Flagg Villas in 2003 by renovating historic railroad cottages. The renovation cost $789,250 and was financed through grants provided by the Georgia Department of Community Affairs and the U.S. Department of Housing Urban Development. The project is a collaboration of Union Mission, Inc., City of Savannah, Georgia Department of Community Affairs, and the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.

Rainbow Village

Rainbow Village, Inc. provides transitional housing for North Metro Atlanta families in domestic or economic crisis. Rainbow Village places families in one of 14 homes in Norcross, Duluth or Snellville. Families do not pay rent, but they are required to deposit money into a savings account to pay outstanding debts, contribute to utility expenses and save for the future. Each family works with a case manager to establish goals. Additionally, families can take advantage of programs at the Rainbow Village Family Life Center, where support groups and life skills training classes help clients regain self-sufficiency. While parents are in training, children can participate in "Big Recess," where they receive a light meal, homework help and play time. An after-school program provides a home-like environment where children can cultivate social skills and study.

Since 1991, more than 100 families have graduated from Rainbow Village's program. Some have purchased their first homes, and 75 percent have worked toward their General Equivalency Diploma (GED) or a degree of higher education.

Therapeutic Group Homes, CHRIS Kids, Inc.

CHRIS Kids, Inc. operates nine family-like therapeutic group homes for children aged 6-17, offering them mental health treatment for severe emotional behavioral problems stemming from abuse and neglect. The children have experienced an average of 10 failed foster home placements and are an average of two years below grade level academically. The therapeutic group homes, located in residential neighborhoods in Clayton, DeKalb, Douglas, Fulton and Gwinnett counties, provide family-like settings to help children adapt to life in a "normal" family. The experience increases their chances of living successfully with a parent or an adopted, foster or extended family after they leave. It also helps break the cycle of abuse by giving them positive interactions with adults. While living in a CHRIS home, children attend public schools and participate in extracurricular activities.

In 2003, CHRIS served 101 children in therapeutic group homes with an average stay of 15 months. On CAFAS scales, which reflect a child's ability to function, children who are in CHRIS homes show a 55 percent improvement in function after 12 months.

Local Government Initiatives 

City of Savannah Neighborhood Revitalization Model

Utilizing the State of Georgia Urban Redevelopment Law, the City of Savannah undertook the revitalization of the Cuyler-Brownsville historic neighborhood to create a model for neighborhood revitalization. Key components included the use of eminent domain to acquire 125 vacant properties; commitment to capital improvements; the planning for, facilitation and financing of both owner-occupied housing and rental development; and assistance with owner-occupied housing repairs. Capital improvements included the construction of a Savannah-style square in the neighborhood, the reinstallation of a historic brick street, and the installation of sidewalks and historic streetlights. The City helped finance the construction of 39 new architecturally compatible and durable single-family homes and the adaptive reuse of the historic Charity Hospital and Florance Street Elementary School into 88 affordable apartments. Additionally, the City provided home repair grants and loans to existing homeowners for exterior and site improvements. The City leveraged approximately $4.2 million of public funds with $17.9 million in private investment for the $22.1 million project.

Using the lessons gleaned from the Cuyler-Brownsville experience, the City developed and approved Mini-Urban Redevelopment Plans (MURPs) for targeted areas within two larger neighborhoods. The City has committed to approving two or three MURPs each year.

Spring Chase II Apartments


The Housing Authority of the County of DeKalb identified a need for more affordable rental housing for seniors aged 55 and over. Using land already owned by the County and adjacent to another Housing Authority project, the Authority developed Spring Chase II Apartments, a complex with 81 one- and two-bedroom apartments. The four-story building also contains community space such as seating/gathering areas, solariums and common activity space. The adjacent support facility has two large areas for resident activities, an exercise facility and staff offices. A Community Center features an on-site library and computer center. The units themselves have French doors that open to patios or balconies, bay windows, and handicapped accessible bathrooms.

Construction of the facility cost about $5 million and was funded through the Authority, HOME and CDBG grants, and private financing. The facility includes 40 Section 8 units, and rents will not exceed HOME rents for the Metro Atlanta area. Seniors at or below 80 percent of the AMI will occupy a minimum of 51 percent of the units.

Statesboro Pointe Subdivision Housing Partnership - 2004 WINNER

The City of Statesboro developed Statesboro Pointe Subdivision to provide affordable owner-occupied housing for low-to-moderate income residents. The development transformed overgrown vacant property into a neighborhood with 25 lots, sidewalks, decorative streetlights, and public and private underground utilities. Using CHIP funds, the City constructed four narrow lot homes on the property. Despite strong marketing efforts, finding buyers who qualified for mortgages through traditional lenders proved difficult, and the City was hesitant to construct additional homes. Habitat for Humanity of Bulloch County already had families waiting for homes but needed land for construction, so the two entities formed a partnership. The City donated three lots to Habitat to re-start the Statesboro Pointe project, with plans for Habitat to purchase the additional lots. The City of Statesboro/Bulloch County Landbank Authority was formed to handle the sale of land. The City will continue involvement in the neighborhood development by providing a $15,000 loan for upfront costs on the construction of each remaining house.

Six families now live in Statesboro Pointe, two in homes built by Habitat for Humanity and four in homes built by the City. All homes follow narrow-lot plans designed specifically for the community. The project cost an estimated $626,000, with most coming from CDBG and CHIP grants and the remaining dollars made available from the City's general fund.

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